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#StepForward Become a REC member

Last updated on 5 Apr 2022

We have an exciting opportunity for more members to join our Research Ethics Committees (RECs) and contribute to our work. We’re looking for people who are passionate about health and social care research to review applications for research studies, particularly registered healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists. You’ll gain a wealth of skills which can help with your career.

#StepForward: Request an application form now.

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What does a REC member do?

Our REC members help to protect research participants and facilitate ethical research. Committees review applications for research approval and are made up of volunteer members who give their time to make a difference. The work is varied but includes some of the biggest challenges we face in health and social care today, from cancer to dementia, and more recently COVID-19. REC members are a mixture of experts (registered healthcare professionals, clinical trial statisticians and other experts in research) and lay members with an interest in health research ethics. Despite having different roles and experiences all members have a shared goal; to ensure research is ethical and fair.

Your interests

To make a good REC member your interests may include:

  • protecting patients and public
  • health research
  • research ethics
  • developments in healthcare
  • working with a group of members from a variety of backgrounds

Skills required

You’ll bring lots of skills including the:

  • ability to read, understand and analyse complex issues and weigh up conflicting opinions
  • ability to take an objective stance, looking at a situation from several perspectives
  • good communication skills and the confidence to voice your opinions
  • ability to work online, accessing and reviewing documents online and attending meetings virtually via Zoom

The skills you will gain

Being a REC member gives you lots of skills which can help in your career. These include:

  • an understanding of research ethics
  • an increased knowledge in research including methodology and statistics
  • an understanding of relevant legislation
  • specialised knowledge, for example paediatric research or adults lacking capacity to give consent
  • enhanced committee skills: summarising, debating, evaluating and decision making

What you will do as a REC member

We need members who can commit to:

  • attend full REC meetings virtually via Zoom, on a monthly basis We ask that members attend a minimum of six meetings a year. Meetings last about half a day and require five to six hours of reading in preparation
  • take part in sub-committee work via email This involves reviewing applications with no material ethical issues or reviewing amendments to approved research. Sub-committee work is in addition to full REC meetings. Members usually get involved in this approximately two to three times a year with two hours reading for each subcommittee meeting
  • review research applications and amendments electronically through our members’ portal or email
  • take part in induction training within your first six months of appointment, equality, diversity and human rights training within your first year of appointment and then complete a minimum of four hours training related to research ethics for each year as a REC member

We provide a range of training some online, some face to face. If you attend a face to face training event, travel expenses will be reimbursed in line with the HRA committee members reimbursement of expenses guidance.

How do I get involved?

Request an application form.

Find out more

Make your application

Please refer to the person specification when making an application:

In order to submit your completed application form or if you have any questions about joining a REC, please contact us at

Meet our REC members

Our committees meet virtually, via Zoom Our members join from the clinic, the office or their home. We have 64 Research Ethics Committees in England and our members are encouraged to join a committee that meets at a time to suit them. We also offer role sharing so that you can join with a colleague and share the workload of being part of a Research Ethics Committee.


I was encouraged to apply to be on a REC by a consultant colleague who had been on a REC for some years. I’m so glad they mentioned it; it wasn’t an opportunity I had been aware of before. I liked the idea of having a first glimpse into the latest research ideas, using my brain analytically and expanding my knowledge.

Lauren Shelmerdine, REC member Yorkshire and the Humber - Sheffield
Zoe Freeman

I became a REC member because I have an interest in medical ethics and thought that being involved with a REC would be a good practical application of this interest. Being a member of a REC has allowed me to work with people from a range of disciplines and backgrounds.

Zoe Freeman - REC member Newcastle and North Tyneside 1 (NNT1) REC
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Being part of an NHS Research Ethics committee can be hard work, but it is extremely rewarding. You have the chance to learn about new areas of research, meet talented researchers at the forefront of their disciplines and discuss complex issues with people from a variety of backgrounds.

Andy Hall, Emeritus Professor at Newcastle University and Chair of Newcastle and North Tyneside 2 Research Ethics Committee

Being a REC member offers more than just the chance to shape and improve health and social care research. We provide regular training and support our members’ development, both professionally and personally. REC members develop their knowledge and are kept up to date on the latest developments in research and ethics. Our clinical members also earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for their work with us.


Being part of the REC has allowed me to attend training sessions around the UK, expanding my knowledge of research ethics and practice at my own pace - while also giving me access to further opportunities to apply those skills.

Jack Bissett, member of the Surrey Borders Research Ethics Committee

Our committees meet virtually, via Zoom (web conferencing). Our members join from the clinic, the office or their home. Our members join from the clinic, the office or from your home. We have 64 Research Ethics Committees in England and our members are encouraged to join a committee that meets at a time to suit them. We also offer role sharing so that you can join with a colleague and share the workload of being part of a Research Ethics Committee.


The committee meetings are 10 times per year which fits in with my busy lifestyle as a mother of two young boys and a full time nurse working in an acute NHS Trust, whilst also studying part-time for my MSc.

Carrie Ridley, Alternate Vice Chair of Brighton and Sussex Research Ethics Committee.

Attend a REC meeting to find out more

If you would like to come along to observe a REC meeting you can do so easily by contacting

Back to research ethics service and research ethics committees

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